This question, “How often should I replace my laptop?”, is very common. People seem to have different views on the answer, and often that answer is based on hearsay or something someone once told the person, and it’s stuck.
The thing with laptops is that by their very nature, they are a portable device and are often used as one. There’s always that one person in the office who never takes their laptop away from their desk, and since it’s plugged into a docking station, the laptop still looks new many years later.
But that person is generally the exception, especially in times of COVID and working from home (WFH).
For most of us, it’s hauling the laptop from meeting to meeting, then home in the car. It might get taken out of your bag in the evening for a few pieces of work, then back in the bag. The next day it’s to the office again, out of the bag, and repeat the process. Laptops can and generally do have a hard life.
REPLACING YOUR LAPTOP: WHEN IS THE BEST TIME?
So, when is a good time to replace your laptop? In the old days of hard disks (the storage device) with moving parts, most companies stuck to a 3-year replacement program. From that point on, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster, as eventually solid-state hard disks arrived and became mainstream. A solid-state hard disk holds all your data and programs but has no moving parts and so is much faster, and far more reliable.
Some companies saw this as an opportunity to extend the life of laptops out to 4 or even 5 years, and this was a realistic way of reducing laptop replacement costs.
But then, more people started to work from home, even pre-COVID. Come COVID and so many more people working from home, and along with that more wear and tear. In a circle-of-life moment, most organisations that Icon IT deals with are back to a 3-year replacement cycle, with some on 4 years. Either is fine, and it’s all down to your budgets and each individual user’s requirements; how often they travel and how hard their laptop is treated on a day-to-day basis.
REPLACING YOUR LAPTOP: WHAT ABOUT NON-FOR-PROFITS?
It can be a different story for not for profits, or charitable organisations. Money is tighter, and so many of them are sticking to a 5-year replacement cycle, again with high-needs individual users perhaps having a replacement sooner than this. Five years is still fine for a laptop, although any older than that is really pushing your luck as far as reliability goes. But for a non-profit, 5 years is a good number, but 4 years is ideal.
REPLACING YOUR LAPTOP: DOCKING STATIONS, THE BANE OF I.T.
It still happens now; You have a docking station with your laptop, and it will only work on that specific laptop brand and model (proprietary).
But times they are a changing. With the advent of a standard called USB-C, nearly all brands are moving to using a USB-C port on the laptop to connect to a docking station.
What does this mean, for you? It should mean that you can plug any docking station that uses USB-C into any new laptop. Yes, any laptop, no matter the brand or model. We’ve finally made it, and this will eventually stop all those old proprietary docking stations from being thrown in the rubbish. Once you are on a USB-C docking station, you can use it again on your next laptop.
There are a few caveats around USB-C docking stations, so check that the one you are buying or being supplied will also charge your laptop. You don’t want to have a fancy new USB-C docking station only to find that you have to plug in the power separately. It’s worth spending a bit more on that new docking station to make sure you only need to plug the one USB-C cable into your laptop, and then can connect your screen/s, mouse, keyboard and network to the docking stations. One docking station to rule them all.
If you’d like some advice for your company or organisation on laptop replacements, feel free to get in touch. We don’t sell hardware, so are not biased to a specific brand. We would only advise on what we believe it best for you.